On Mr. Bacon's Resolution to re-cede the District of Columbia.
House of Representatives, February 9, 1803.
Mr. BAYARD. Now, the states of Maryland and Virginia have made this cession, with the consent and approbation of the people in the ceded territory, and Congress has accepted the cession, and assumed the jurisdiction. Are they, then, at liberty, or can they relinquish it, without the consent of the other parties? It is presumed they cannot. In his opinion, they were constitutionally and morally bound to proceed in the exercise of that power regularly assumed, either immediately by themselves, or by the intervention of a territorial legislature, chosen and acting under a special act of Congress for that purpose. To relinquish the jurisdiction at this time, and re-cede the territory, would, in his view, exhibit a surprising inconsistency of conduct in the legislature; it would discover such a versatility, such a disposition to change, as could not fail to unsettle the minds of the people, and shake their confidence in the government.